Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden in East Lansing

Greater Lansing

After being cooped up inside for winter, we were at the point of needing some outdoor time. I wanted somewhere local to reconnect with my daughter and granddaughters yet avoid the potential weekend crowds. The Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden at Michigan State University fits the bill. Even without children, the garden is a relaxing place to explore.

We also took this opportunity to pull the kiddos away from electronics and get them outdoors for fresh air and fun, yet still sneak in some learning opportunities. The 4-H Children’s Garden encourages learning through its fifty-five-themed gardens.

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The Pizza Garden at the 4-H Children's Garden, Michigan State University
The Pizza Garden in Spring

The Pizza Garden

One of our favorite gardens at the Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden was the Pizza Garden, where we found everything it takes to make pizza. The six feet in diameter garden has a mysteriously missing slice and concrete “crust” edges embossed with circles representing pepperoni. This garden structure led to a discussion that pepperoni doesn’t grow in gardens. We talked about where pizza comes from. Surprisingly, it doesn’t originate at the local pizza shop.

The Pizza Garden grows wheat that, in turn, is milled into flour, forming the basis for the pizza’s crust. Tomatoes create pizza sauce, and the oregano and basil flavor the sauce. You’ll find veggie toppings like onions and green peppers as summer progresses.

  • Experimenting with the Dance Chimes
  • Touching the Twigs at Twigaloo Village

The Five Senses

Throughout the Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden, my daughter and I encouraged the kiddos to experience the area with all five senses. In the Pizza Garden, we rubbed our hands through the basil, oregano, and chives leaves, and they smelled just like pizza. The blossoming chives added a welcome pop of purple color to the bed. Early in the season, some plots are still missing color.

The Pizza Garden was the perfect place to discuss the sense of taste as we recalled our favorite pizza. At the end of the evening, we stopped by our favorite pizza place and picked up a real veggie pizza to extend our adventure. We made the connections between our dinner and our memorable garden experience.

The flowers’ bright colors entertained our sense of sight while jumping on the Dance Chimes engaged our hearing. We touched the rough sticks of the Twigaloo Village and the cold bronze of the Life’s Lessons sculpture to round out our experience with the fifth sense.

  • Life's Lessons Sculpture at the 4-H Children's Garden at Michigan State University
  • Young Girl Sculpture at 4-H Children's Garden at Michigan State University


Art lovers will enjoy the sculptures and other art installations throughout the less than two-thirds of an acre Children’s Garden. Two of my favorites are the Lesson’s Learned sculpture to the left after entering the garden. A bronze sculpture of a boy seated on a bench reading a book includes a whimsical bird perched on an open page. Be sure to notice the stack of books tucked slightly behind the child. I almost missed them the first time I looked.

Another favorite is the Young Girl sculpture at the Secret Garden. A wrought iron bench in the space was the perfect place to sit in luxurious solitude, enjoy the statue, and reflect. By chance, you may see some wildlife in the form of bunnies, chipmunks, and squirrels. I’ve seen rabbits before, and today, a chipmunk scurried throughout the area.

  • Peter Rabbit Garden in Spring
  • Peter Rabbit Garden in Summer
  • Stone Soup Box in Summer

Story Time

My daughter read Peter Rabbit as a bedtime story the night before we visited the garden. The Peter Rabbit Garden features statues of Peter and his mother, and even this early in the season, we saw some pops of red in the fresh Swiss chard. Later in the season, this garden also features Bunny Tail plants, a fun connection to Peter Rabbit.

Stone Soup is another storybook garden connected to our visit.

  • Gate to the Maze
  • Train Station

Interactive Activities at the Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden

From the Secret Garden, a large gate swings open to a maze formed by tall evergreen trees. The feeling that adventure awaited just around the corner as we wandered through the labyrinth added to the fun. Rest assured, the maze wasn’t long or complicated and is precisely suitable for young children accompanied by their parents. My 14-month-old granddaughter toddled through the dirt paths without issue.

The 4-H Children’s Garden includes several interactive activities. For those kids who need to blow off steam, climbing the treehouse-style fort will tire them out. A kid-sized train engine is another climbing area with a couple of seats in the train station for parents and grandparents who don’t have as much energy as their kiddos. It’s the perfect place for the kids to work off some of that energy while adults can supervise nearby.

The Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden’s outdoor space is open from dawn until dusk, with no admission charge. A small paid parking lot adjoins the garden.

Click here to discover other Michigan children’s gardens.

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Michigan 4-H Children's Garden Entrance
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Amy Piper
Author: Amy Piper

While Piper is a lifelong Michigander, she’s had adventures worldwide. Bomb-sniffing dogs chased her in the middle of the night in Bogota (working late), gate agents refused her boarding to Paraguay (wrong visa), and US Marshals announced her seat number on a plane while looking for a murder suspect (she’d traded seats). It’s always an adventure! She even finds exciting activities in her home state of Michigan, where she lives in Lansing with her husband, Ross Dingman, her daughter, Alexis, and two granddaughters.


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  1. Kim

    What an adorable garden! I’ll have to remember it if I’m near East Lansing.

    • Piper

      It really was a great place to get outdoors!

  2. Peyton

    I love the scenary in your pictures!



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Welcome to Follow the Piper! Discover interesting destinations, and practical planning tips for packing more travel into your everyday life.

Our founder and author, Amy Piper, is a freelance travel writer, blogger, photographer, and author specializing in traveling through a food lens and multi-generational travel. She is a native Michigander who travels through the lens of a food lover and has been to 41 countries and 45 states.


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